Thursday, July 12, 2007

Orange Alert!

No - it's not the Homeland Security terrorist threat. It's the current quality of our valley air. Today is the second "orange" day in a row.

(I wrote about "yellow alert" last month - click HERE to review. It's gotten worse since then.)

Here's the official warning:

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has issued an orange air quality alert for today, and all open outdoor burning is prohibited in Ada and Canyon County by municipal and county ordinance.
Hot temperatures in Southwest Idaho and smoke from wildfires are contributing to high levels of ozone.
Today's forecast air quality index is 110, which is considered unhealthy for sensitive individuals. All individuals may want to consider postponing strenuous activities until air quality improves. The following actions may help reduce air pollution during this period:
• Limit driving.
• Combine trips and errands.
• Don't burn outdoors.
• Fill your gas tank and mow your yard in the evening after temperatures cool down.

I'm sure the "limit driving" advice is given (nudge-nudge, wink-wink), but there's no expectation that it will be followed. Same with the "combine trips" advice. I've not noticed any change in number of vehicles on the road. We can't be inconvenienced, at least for something as trivial as air quality!

In fact yesterday afternoon, I was bicycling on Miller Street, just south of downtown. (I know, I'm not following their advice, either. They say to postpone strenuous activity. But... I wasn't really hammerin', just riding along at a brisk pace.) I happened across a Boise Police cruiser; it was just sitting there, on the side of the road, idling. With nobody inside, and nobody in sight. Reinforcing the common belief that rules are for the "little people," but not for everybody.


Anonymous said...

Yesterday was the first weekday driving I have done in a long time(over 2 months?). Part of it was child care and the other part was buying a slighty used Park workstand. But I am back on the bike today. In fact, I found a book shelf with some salvage wood that I think I might haul home on the Xtracycle.

I know we should all restrain our driving during these days, but I think mother nature is to blame for the recent orange alerts for air quality. The weather pattern is pushing up smoke from 2 fires south of Silver City (30,000 acres).

Bikeboy said...

Clancy, no doubt a large percentage of the total current air pollution can be attributed to the wildfires.

But, allow me a couple observations:
1) The amount of auto-caused pollution hasn't decreased because the smoke has increased, only its percentage of the total mix.
2) I'd rather by downwind from a campfire, ANY DAY, than suck on an exhaust pipe!

People expect the burn ban to be enforced, but the "suggestion" to use cars a little less is pretty much laughingstock. (Even though cars normally are the #1 contributors to the squank.)